Site menu:

Newsletter ~ September 2006 Issue

North Island robin returning to Russell

North Island Robin

The North Island robin, which disappeared from Russell years ago, is to be returned to the peninsula in autumn next year.

The NZ Kiwi Foundation and Russell Landcare Group are organising the translocation, which is being coordinated by Pauline Stephinson, a Royal Society Teacher Fellow for 2006.

The project can only go ahead thanks to a successful and sustained programme of pest eradication, carried out by the Kiwi Foundation.

For robins (Toutouwai) to survive and prosper there must be almost no rats, mustelids, feral cats or possums.

There are nine pest monitoring lines located on Russell Peninsula for this purpose. The monitoring lines consist of black plastic, square tracking tunnels with ink cards and also wax tabs nailed 300 mm off the ground.

The purpose is to record with tracking ink the passage of mice, rats, hedgehogs, cats, mustelids (stoats, weasels and ferrets), possums and even dogs. The results are then analysed and a tracking index is calculated for each pest.

Bait stations in kiwi country, generally, are located at least 700mm off the ground to target ship rats (Rattus rattus) and to prevent kiwi (unlikely) and weka (more likely) obtaining the toxins.

The initial results of our pest monitoring indicates that ship rat numbers are very low in most places but Norway rats (water rats - Rattus norvegicus) have increased their territory and numbers because of the removal of ship rats.

To combat the increase in range and number of Norway rats, we have deployed black plastic coils around the monitoring lines (except for the control line) and loaded these with small amounts of Pestoff. The coils are pegged with two No. 8 wires and the toxin is in the middle part of the coil where it is not accessible to weka or kiwi.

Rats like human habitation as well as forests and creeks. Rats are carriers of disease and kill many other animals as well as getting into birds' nests.

The NZ Kiwi Foundation wishes, over the next few months to remove rats from Russell town and Okiato as well as from the forested areas of the bigger peninsula.

Come along to an Open Day at Russell Town Hall on Saturday October 14 to see what's involved in pest monitoring and learn how rats can be controlled safely.

Staying on Russell Peninsula: weka

As many Russell people are aware, North Island weka have thrived on the Russell Peninsula since the release of 38 birds in 2003/2004.

Two weka have been run over, but the numbers are climbing dramatically.

Ann and Basil Graham recently did a survey and calculated that there are now more than 200 weka on the peninsula.

Final results will be made known when confirmed.

Kiwi facts

For further information on kiwi please see our new website:

Wellington planner maps out route to opposing bad developers

Knowledge of the district plan, evidence of what a planner is up to and lobbying of the council are the best ways to combat bad development.

That was the advice from Kathryn St Amand, a planning manager from Wellington, in her talk to an audience at Aroha Island in May.

When approaching the district council for information or making a complaint about a development she suggested several steps that would mean you are more likely to be dealt with promptly

Kiwi foraging for food

In the long term, Ms Armand said, it is education that is the key to success. By educating the developers, the contractors, the council and the public you make them aware of activities which damage wildlife.

It may not stop bad development, but no one can hide behind the excuse that they did not know their activities were harmful.

Kiwi call counts

Preliminary kiwi call counts are available, but cannot be confirmed until publication later in 2006.

Top of the list of 'mean kiwi call counts/hour' was Wiwiki Beach, closely followed by Marsden Cross - both on Purerua Peninsula with both locations recording over 30 calls per hour over eight hours spread over four nights.

Three other locations were above 10 calls per hour: Aroha Island and Stirlings Quarry on Kerikeri Peninsula and Mountain Landing on Purerua.

Russell Heights was monitored for the first time and recorded an average of 9.8 calls per hour. Tapuaetahi, Mangaparerua, Takou Bay and Kauri Cliffs were other sites in the 2006 survey.

Waiaua Bay came in last, but this is the first time that a kiwi call has been heard there - excellent news!

To see exactly where these monitoring positions are, go to the website then select Project Area, Monitoring. Have fun with Google Maps while you are there, click on an icon to zoom in and try a satellite view!

Kiwi calls - mean per hour - 2006
Location Calls
Wiwiki Beach, Mataka Station, Purerua32.1
Marsden Cross, Purerua30.6
Aroha Island, Kerikeri12.6
Tikitikioure, Russell Peninsula12.5
Stirlings Quarry, Kerikeri12.4
Mountain Landing Wharengaere, Purerua12.3
End Gate, Kurapari Rd, Kerikeri10.4
Russell Heights, Russell9.8
McKenzie Rd, Purerua9.5
Mountain Landing/Mataka Station, Purerua8.5
Mountain Landing, Purerua7.5
Bulls Gorge, Kerikeri7.0
Waterfall, Kauri Cliffs, Takou Bay5.5
Napia Bay/Redcliffs, Kerikeri4.6
Rhyolitic Dome, Mangaparerua4.5
Mataka Station Gate, Purerua4.0
Pink Beach, Kauri Cliffs, Takou Bay4.0
West of Rhyolitic Dome, Mangaparerua4.0
Puriri, Kauri Cliffs, Takou Bay1.5
Waiaua Bay, Kauri Cliffs, Takou Bay0.5

Dogs: man's best friend, kiwi's worst enemy

Dogs have killed at least three kiwi recently in the Kerikeri area: at Wharau Road, on Redclifts Rd and at Matoa.

The kiwi killed next to Stirlings Quarry on Redcliff Rd was a juvenile bird looking to establish its own territory.

It makes trapper Ron Dobbs sick to his stomach:

“This kiwi should have survived because we are poisoning and trapping where I found it and I believe doing a good job controlling the pests, but you can't do anything about peoples' dogs.”

A Department of Conservation investigation showed the kiwi was about half grown and had died from an attack by a small dog.

The greatest danger for juvenile kiwis leaving the nest and adult kiwis comes from dogs, says Dr Greg Blunden, convenor of the New Zealand Kiwi Foundation.

“Kiwis have a strong smell that dogs can't resist. A dog won't usually eat a kiwi. The kiwi excites the dog by kicking out and snapping its bill. The dog will grab the kiwi by the back or chest and quickly shake or crush it to death.”

“Do you have any spare kiwi for us?” Conservationist asks AGM

Kiwi foraging for food

It was standing room only at the New Zealand Kiwi Foundation's AGM in May to hear Auckland Regional Council conservationist Tim Lovegrove talk about the strides his council is making to preserve its wildlife.

The main message of the talk was, however, how lucky Far North District is to still have kiwi roaming the landscape and how much Auckland Regional Council would like to re-introduce kiwi to its parks.

“If you have any kiwi going spare” he said, “we'll take them off your hands.”

We'll let you know Tim, but I wouldn't hold your breath.

Takou Bay and beyond

Many people have noticed the terrific kiwi sign erected on State Highway 10 near the turnoff to Takou Bay.

NZ Kiwi Foundation Trustees:

Dr. Greg Blunden (Convenor)
Edwin de Wilde (Treasurer)
Russell Thomas
Ross Lockyer
Howard Smith
Lindsay Charman
Kerry Walshe

Newsletter - Kiwi PR - Paul & Helen Denny

Kiwi pictures courtesy of Carol Davies